Chekhov’s most famous play is such a masterful assassination of the human condition that it isn’t about anything so much as it’s about everything. It’s about the sadness at the heart of being, the impotent fire of youth and the inevitable tragedy of age. It’s about the terrible compulsion of creativity, the shallowness of actors, and the pomposity of writers. It’s about how everyone is a total shit but at least one day they will all be dead.
And yet this new adaptation somehow bundles it all up into the kind of ploddingly entertaining period drama you’ll end up watching on telly with your mum in a few Christmases’ time.
Saoirse Ronan glows as the naive young Nina, an aspiring actress whose beautiful full moon face makes her a target for men who should really know better. She’s well supported by Elizabeth Moss, who loves the guy who loves Nina, and Corey Stoll (House of Cards), who broods lavishly as a popular writer and is loved by everybody.
It’s all perfectly fine, but manages to miss the fiery essence that makes the play so great.